In adult mammals, ovarian function is characterized by regular cyclic changes, which are critical for the egg development, sex steroid hormones production and fertility. These processes depend on the tight regulation of the activity of different ovarian signaling cascades that, if altered during the critical periods of development, can lead to adverse effects on reproductive function. Initial investigations reveal that ovarian development and functions are sensitive to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
Endpoints of the EDCs action in the ovary have been well investigated; however, insufficient research has been done to identify molecular mechanism(s) by which EDCs perturb ovarian function. Alterations in signaling could provide a plausible link between the EDCs exposure and the pathophysiology of reproductive diseases such as premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovarian syndrome and infertility in women. The aim of the EcoSignal is to investigate whether exposure to EDCs affects function of the key ovarian signaling pathways and thus alters the ovarian function. To achieve this goal, we will expose the ovarian cells to estrogenic EDCs and the signaling responses and the ovarian function will be analyzed using various molecular and cell biology techniques.
This includes identification of ERK and AKT signaling as estrogenic EDCs targets and their contribution to the ovarian dysfunctions. Identification of the EDC-sensitive signaling in the ovarian cells is an important step in understanding the risk of EDCs on human reproductive diseases.